A sex show is a form of pornographic performance in which customers pay to see live persons appearing performing some type of sexual activity. The sexual performance may be autoerotic or with another performer and may be actual or simulated. Sex shows are distinguished from striptease in that sex show performers engage in sexual activity rather than simply undressing and dancing nude. Sex shows are distinguished from prostitution in that the performer engages in sexual activity with another performer or masturbates themselves for the entertainment of a customer rather than engaging in sex with the customer directly. Sex shows, however, do overlap with other forms of sex work; some strip clubs and peep shows offer live sex performances, and some prostitutes offer sexual performances with other prostitutes among their services.
The content of a sex show is often controlled by national and local legal, zoning, and licensing restrictions, particularly obscenity laws. Some areas allow striptease, but no sexual activity, others may allow only simulated sexual activity or autoerotic activity, while others allow anything that is legal in recorded pornography to be performed live. Generally speaking, autoerotic activity is the most common legally-available kind of live sexual activity, followed by lesbian performances, with male-female performances being featured in only a few cites throughout the world, notably Amsterdam and Barcelona.
An increasingly common form of sex show are adult webcam performances in which the viewer is able to view and interact with sexual performers in real time, though the viewer and performer may be separated by wide geographical distances.